24 September 2015

The Making of Us.

Playing Uno when we popped to Belgium for lunch!

It started in France, when we were staying in a crummy hotel room, kept getting lost in the car and spent a few days just with each other and no-one else.

We started playing cards to while away the time spent after supper and before bed, just the kids and me.

Normally, they like to go to our students for their entertainment - a kick about in the garden, keeping up with the latest stuff on YouTube that wouldn't hit a radar of mine in a million years or playing Jenga while I cook / clean / do everything else in the whole wide world.

So it was strange to be just us, without distractions or chores to complete to keep the house ticking over and to have free time just to be.

We discovered we liked it, just being we three and playing games.

Our favourite by far was Uno, the card game of colours and numbers.  The little one regularly thrashed us.  He has the luck of Lucius, that one and made us laugh out loud with his lack of grace when winning.  He's a terrible loser as well and needed to learn about treating 'the imposters of triumph and disaster' just the same (Rudyard Kipling in his poem called 'If.').  That was fun.

They learned about 'the luck of the draw,' how it's not ok to cheat and how important it is to be seen to be not cheating.  That was a bit of a battle, but a laugh and we still can't turn our back on the youngest at all when he's dealing!

We've played Monopoly this summer, with the crap weather and having to stay at home more to help my head get better and that has been a joy.

They are terribly competitive, my two boys - not only with each other, but against me.  They like to gang up and make sure I lose to either of them.  I pretend to be awfully offended, but, secretly, am pleased they collude in this fashion.  I like to watch them growing closer as they get older.

It seems to have changed us.  Screens are banned during the week anyway (not in the six weeks off though, that would be crazy) and we seem to be calmer.  Life has found a different footing for us all and it suits us.

We're happy - past the chaos of two very young kids on my own and pre the dealing with two teenagers stage.  The lull before the storm, perhaps!

At present, the children are enjoying being children and I am enjoying them.  They use their imagination a lot and are now inventing games for us to play - ones only they can win, usually, obviously - changing the rules as they go along, quite convinced it's perfectly acceptable.  I humour them for a while, but try to teach them 'fair play' too, something we were all taught when we were growing up.

I don't want them to be sore losers.  I want them to want to win, but to realise that it's not the be all and end all and that, mostly, it's the taking part that matters, the give and take and the decorum with which we all have to play the hand we're dealt.

Just like life.

And it's been the making of us.

Here's the poem in case you dont' know it.  Which games would you recommend?
If you can keep your head when all about you   
 Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;   
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;   
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,   
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!